An uncommon look at entrepreneurial essentials



J.D. Roumeliotis
Montreal, QC Canada
T: +1.514.715.7785 F: +1.514.695.5659
TWITTER: @jdroumeliotis

James and I have been friends  for the past couple of years…He recently wrote & published his new book…

“Entrepreneurial Essentials: Unconventional Business Wisdom and Bold Tactics”

See details @A book about implementing refreshing business strategies in the marketplace including:
– Strategies every successful leader must know.
– Sales Management Tactics for the goal-oriented executive.
– Executive Leadership.
– Effective Marketing and Branding techniques
– Design, Innovation, and the Luxury Domain.
– What you don’t know could hurt your business.
– Additional thoughts about post-recession marketing
– Effective political campaign strategies by utilizing marketing techniques along with the personal brand.

Jim has allowed me to post the first two chapters of his book for my blog readers… I hope you’ll find it a good read, too…

I dedicate this book to my twin daughters, Athena and Suzana-Maria who are my purpose in life as well as to all like-minded business people and professionals the world-over.

“An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success.” Stephen R. Covey


Although I have been a prolific writer for many years, this book is my initial release –

the content of which I was eager to share with those who are willing to approach

business practices from a different perspective. This is not a typical “how to” book

although there is plenty of “how to” in it. The subject matter herein includes an updated

collection of my published and well received articles.

This project was a personal lifetime goal which I was keen to achieve prior to my

midlife. The idea and inspiration for this book came from more than 30 years as a

practitioner in the areas of business development (B2B and B2C), sales management,

customer engagement, marketing/branding (online/offline most notably the luxury

sector), public relations, project management and entrepreneurship – all in diverse

fields involving products, as well as services and spanning three countries and beyond.

Along with my practical experience and having dealt with adverse circumstances locally

and overseas, I have also learned by paying particular attention to mistakes/failures

and successes made by individuals in key leadership positions. In addition, over the

years I have become a student of each business/industry I have been involved with

through continuous and relentless training, research and occasional academic work.

You will not find much empirical evidence in here as the book was not intended for

academia. However, I do encourage any professional to apply the ideas which, if

executed capably, should yield the results which worked for me and many others.

There are, plenty of suggestions with common sense adaptable possibilities for any

flexible contemporary organization.

As a resourceful, knowledgeable and caring person, I very much enjoy offering both

solicited and unsolicited advice, along with a dose of motivation, particularly to those

who genuinely care to help themselves. This time I am delighted to give back to various

business professionals (salespeople, sales managers, company/divisional heads,

marketers to name a few) thoughts and ideas that they can apply in their relevant fields

of endeavor. The ideas are equally applicable in the public sector.

Moreover, having been involved in a couple of municipal/political campaigns as a

manager/adviser, I decided to include some helpful advice on managing an effective

political campaign.

Every subject in this book, regardless of its scope of business, has a similar theme: it

involves loyal, dedicated and well-trained people who are empowered to think “outside

the box” (lateral thinking) and apply their creative ideas usually with stellar results.

I have produced seven chapters in distinct categories to make the book simple to follow

and a practical way to search for a specific subject of interest.

Chapter I: Business Effectiveness

 Subject matter which covers the degree to which

objectives are achieved and the extent to which targeted problems are solved. In

contrast to efficiency, effectiveness is determined without reference to costs and,

whereas efficiency means “doing the thing right,” effectiveness means “doing the right


Chapter II: Executive Leadership

 When you are in any position of leadership, it is nolonger about you it is all about the people following your lead. The topics in this

chapter describe what it takes to lead including suggestions for practical and effective

decision making and ways to eliminate the stifling bureaucracy.

Chapter III: Sales Management Strategies

 Creating a successful sales strategy will

allow sales managers and their sales team to focus on the right customers. Here all

aspects of sales management are covered including hiring the right candidates,

training/development, tactics and compensation.

Chapter IV: Marketing and Branding Tactics

 Well targeted and strategic marketing

engages your audience as it makes a connection with them. Several elements of

marketing, including focused marketing and branding strategy, are covered in this

section. They work together to reinforce and strengthen the brand image.

Chapter V: Customer Engagement

 Repeated interactions a client experiences with a

company are considered touch points. Topics here include customer service, as well as

how the experience a customer interaction or encounter that can influence the

customer’s perception of a product, service, or brand.

Chapter VI: Design and Innovation

 As design is an important element of innovation

that is often overlooked, this section describes how we interact with and experience

products which in turn, will determine which ones consumers will appreciate for both

their beauty and functionality and therefore purchase.

Chapter VII: The Luxury Domain

 This specific and higher-priced tier of offer in almost

any product or service category has its own rules for success. This chapter puts into

perspective lifestyle, customer aspirations, types of wealth, and high-end trends along

with branding.

Amongst the people I would like to thank for their collaboration with my writing project

are: Thomas C. Mylonas <WWW.DOTKITE.EU>, who co-authored with me, “

The Essence of

Creative Consumer Product and Packaging Design

”, Andrew Scharf

<> for his valuable input, including for

their professional editorial work and content flow enhancement.

I encourage dialogue regarding any of the enclosed subject matter. Comments/views

can be communicated to me at

I am also available for individual coaching or consulting, as well as for group

presentations and speaking engagements on any of the topics in this book. My

seminars are known to be concise and quite visually focused. Most of my slides contain

one or two lines of text and an image. Watching my presentation makes you feel like

you are watching a documentary – yet all of my presentations can be custom tailored to

a specific audience.


James D. Roumeliotis – April 2012

“No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It

must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership

composed of average human beings.”

Peter Drucker

Entrepreneurial Essentials:

Unconventional Business Wisdom and Bold Tactics

Table of Contents

Preamble ……………………………………………………………………………………..

CHAPTER I: Business Effectiveness

The 7 Key Principles for Business Success ……………………………………………..

The Inept Organization …………………………………………………………….……….

Innovative Yet Effective Hiring Practices .……………………………………….…….….

CHAPTER II: Executive Leadership

Optimizing the Decision Making Process ……………………………………..……………

The Anathema of Bureaucracy: Dealing With Its Fate and

Embracing Its Inverse …………..………………………………………..……………………

CHAPTER III: Sales Management Strategies

Plotting Sales Structure Strategy ……………………………………………….…………….

Sales Force Dynamics …………………………………………………………………………

(Sales) Management by Tactics ……….……………………………………………………..

Sales Management: Focusing On Core Competencies for Extraordinary Results ………

CHAPTER IV: Marketing and Branding Tactics

Branding Strategies for a Fundamental Differentiation ……………………………………

Professional Branding Up-Close and Personal: Advice for the Private Practice ……….

ME Inc.: The Impact of Personal Branding in Strategic Marketing………………………..

Exploiting the Benefits of Niche Marketing ………………………………………………….

Demonstrate Rather Than Tell: Experiential Marketing ……………………………………

Ambiance Marketing …………………………………………………………………………..

Marketing Strategy vs. Public Relations ……………….……………………………………

Lifestyle Branding …………………..………………………………………………….………

Branding Bottled Water ………………………………………………………………………….

Post Recession Marketing Approach …………….……………………………………………

CHAPTER V: Customer Engagement

The Customer Experience ………………………………………………………………………

A Philosophy Named “Customer Service” ……………………………………………………..

CHAPTER VI: Design and Innovation

The Essence of Creative Consumer Product and Packaging Design ………………………

CHAPTER VII: The Luxury Domain

Defining the Luxury Brand ………………………………………………………………………

Luxury Condominium Marketing ……………………………………………………………….

Upscale Restaurant Marketing with an Attitude ……………………………………………………..

Embracing a New Paradigm Shift in the Luxury Product Domain – Post Recession ……..

Business Outside of the Corporation

How to Run an Effective Political Campaign ……..……………………………………………



James D. Roumeliotis – 04/2012

“Business, more than any other occupation, is a continual dealing with the future; it is a

continual calculation, an instinctive exercise in foresight.”

Henry R. Luce

The 7 Key Principles for Business Success


A Personal

Belief Through Years of Practical Experience



It should fulfill a need, offer a benefit, be innovative and differentiate itself. It’s also

imperative that the entrepreneur is passionate about the product/service, empowers

his/her staff, as well as practices/conveys business ethics. To excel in the business, the

entrepreneur must have the right mindset and attitude. This includes drive,

perseverance, tenacity, and an undying belief in himself/herself and the value he/she

adds. He/She must also be willing to embrace the concept that he/she takes complete

ownership for his/her results. He/She can’t blame the marketplace, the economy or the

employees for failure. In the end, it’s the entrepreneur making the decisions.


Critical and can vary depending on the size of the undertaking. Start your capital search

with a good business plan that shows investors and lenders your company’s potential.

Furthermore, take advantage of any government loan program created for start-ups.

Expect to realistically invest about 30% of your own money based on the total value of

the project. Last but not least, cash-flow is the lifeblood of your business if you’re going

to sustain the operation financially.


Advertise, publicize, be first, different, daring and memorable. Deliver on those

promises and constantly remain customer focused.

Sales, on the other hand, are part of the marketing function. They include business

development and account management. Sales are crucial to business because they are

the bottom line, whereas marketing is about getting a product known. However, at the

end of the day, it’s about the need for a constant stream of new business which brings

in the necessary cash flow.


Don’t simply HIRE well-educated and experienced people. It’s most important to hire

MOTIVATED, dedicated, coachable staff with interpersonal skills. Moreover, make

certain that the people you hire fit-in with your corporate culture. Your organization

should also foster an atmosphere of innovation and creativity through leadership. Work

for staff should be meaningful rather than a chore. These conditions can’t help but

breed success. Implement an orientation workshop for new recruits and an occasional

training program. Invest in your key employees!


Consider publishing an “Operations Manual” and continuously enforce its procedures.

Without a structure, the chances of failure increases. Everyone should be on the same

page and embrace best practices for quality results with consistency.


Watch them closely, borrow wisely and don’t overspend. Watch your financial ratios and

yields (where applicable). The success of your business is, in many ways, measured by

the bottom line. Even if you hired a full-time accountant, you would still need to have a

fundamental knowledge of accounting, how it works, and how to apply its basic

principles in order to run a flourishing business.


This is by no means a one-time event but rather an on-going process.

“If you don’t drive your business, you will be driven out of business.”

– B. C. Forbes

The Inept Organization: Weak Leadership as the Culprit

How often do you come across a company, either as a consumer or at a business

relationship level, and realize how frustrating it is to deal with?

To understand and penetrate the corporate governing structure and “culture”, you need

look no further than the upper echelon of the hierarchical tree. It is here that procedural

decisions are shaped and executed. An entity’s leadership is expected to head the

enterprise by governing its long-term growth and sustained wealth.

Moreover, there is a constant search for the “right” human resources. Recruited and

fresh talent must resemble the leadership in tone and style. Call it the organization’s

DNA. Exceptional organizations are good at these types of corporate strategies, thus

strengthening performance effectively.

I have noticed that in certain types of B2B transactions, there can be scope for

unscrupulous behavior. One or both parties are tempted by “disservice” during their

business exchange. Shortsightedness might lend itself to make this underhanded

approach appear “profitable” on paper. Such relationships inevitably end badly because

they are not conceived with trust or respect.

Success Breeds Success

Companies that foster the right attitudes and strategies put the firm on track for

success. Examining their corporate histories, you can witness a trajectory of growth.

They have a tendency to dominate their markets and “win” through competent talent,

innovation, and an entrepreneurial mindset within the leadership at the executive level.

These choices underscore the prosperity and rapid growth of the institution. An

examination of Google or Facebook shows this quite nicely. They are not built like

“traditional” corporations nor do they act like them.

Organizational leadership is accountable for creating value for customers, employees

and its owners/investors. When Bill Gates conceived Microsoft, he put the firm on track

for providing constituent audiences with what nobody else could provide. Understanding

“asset” management in an expanded meaning of the term guaranteed that Microsoft

would succeed under Gates stewardship.

The opposite is equally true. When top executives lack knowledge or experience for

board positions, they should not be promoted to these leadership roles. Some familyowned

firms run afoul here and this brings up the issues of sustainability and corporate

governance. Another weakness in running an organization, in my view, is pushing for

short-term profitability at the expense of solid planning. For example, with large

organizations, competence is not the primary value but rather connections, politics, and

clever tactics. Such “benefits” can usually compensate for incompetence.

No firm can continue to prosper unless it attracts fresh and eager talent. Despite the

dilemmas within the financial world, top organizations consistently lure new talent with

lucrative compensation packages. It is easier for a firm such as Goldman to tap the

“best” because of its reputation, size and success than a small local financial player.

When Goldman recruits they know where to look, whether it is Harvard or the London

Business School. Prospects will already contain the seeds of the corporate culture in

their past. Given the “right” conditions, new talent blossoms. Qualifications are never

enough. They are a starting point reinforced by attitude and values. The selection and

screening process is designed by HR to weed out inappropriate candidates.

Take the case of Michael Page, the global recruitment firm. Ever wonder when you pass

one of their buildings on a Friday evening why the staff at the pub all seem to resemble

one another, whether men or women? They were intentionally selected to match a


To give you another example, Microsoft’s interview process includes quizzing

candidates with challenging technical questions. This practice not only assesses

problem-solving and knowledge ability, but also explores the ability to perform under

pressure, which is a key skill required to succeed in Microsoft’s intense work


One thing is dead certain. The best-managed companies have “one” factor in common:

They are constant achievers in their respective industries. These companies exude

managerial excellence. Financial performance is the result of this style of management.

Take the case of the Westinghouse Air Brake Company, a 19th-century business that

still thrives because it is one of the companies with the “best management” in the USA.

Deeds Not Slogans

Companies with inept leadership usually fail in the first year or two, but even established

companies can stumble badly when they outgrow the capabilities of the founding team.

Research by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrates that nearly 6/10

businesses shut down within the first 4 years of operation.

To be a successful entrepreneur is not an effortless task. It takes plenty of sacrifice. A

new generation of young entrepreneurs think the road is smooth and a fast track to easy

wealth. Not everyone will become Mark Zuckerberg. Obstacles and sacrifice are part of

the deal. Harnessing opportunity and overcoming challenges on a daily basis to top the

competition is constant work. These conditions are true no matter what the sector of

business engagement or company size.

Telltale signs of weak organizations can be traced to inept leadership. The following

points highlight the deficiencies:

• Poor customer service – slow or no customer inquiry replies – abysmal handling of

sales and service complaints. Service is portrayed as a reward, not a right or benefit.

• No Unique Selling/Value Proposition. Companies need to define and articulate their

unique value proposition and deliver on it consistently. Create the platform for

sustainable and competitive advantage.

• Operational deficiencies – various ailments and no structure

• Absence of or very little communication amongst staff and management. Divisions

aren’t well-coordinated and do not function as a team.

• No transparency. There is hardly any openness from management.

• Unethical practices – short-term selfish objectives in search of market share. Top

executives should promote social norms and principles as moral agents.

• Lack of proper execution of decisions and with new products/services.

• Productivity incentives should be implemented to boost results and employee morale.

People must be given a reason to work hard and be efficient.

• Creativity is practically non-existent. An absence of innovation and employee

empowerment will hurt progress and stifle new ideas.

• No clear vision/strategy – there needs to be a strategic vision that reflects a truly

unmet need and has the commitment of a dedicated CEO. That means that there is a

well-defined target audience with a distinct value position that is differentiated,

meaningful, and deliverable.

• A weak sales force along with an unattractive compensation plan.

• Favoring nepotism and bias – promoting family members over other qualified

employees often leads to resentment or, worse, prompts valuable non-family employees

to leave the company.

• Poor hiring practices – should hire for attitude and train for skills.

• Slow/delayed decision-making process – too many layers – overwhelming

bureaucratic structure.

• High turnover, which leads to poor employee morale, reduced intellectual capital,

lower service levels, higher operational costs and decreased productivity.

• Management in a state of denial about their organization’s shortcomings – remaining

with the dysfunctional status quo

• No channel strategy. Some companies focus on building a product, but don’t think

through how to get it into the hands of customers. Even if your product is great, unless

you can sell directly, you may be dead in the water without strong channel partners.

• The hidden game – corporate politics – power plays by a handful of individuals for their

own benefit to the detriment of their colleagues and the company.

• Misrepresentation of brand(s) – too much hype – empty promises – not delivering on

expectations – leads to dissatisfied clients who will alienate the brand.

• Weak financial controls – cash flow dilemmas – over leveraged/undercapitalized (high

debt-to-capital ratio) – not reinvesting a certain percentage of profits for future growth.

• Absence of sound marketing program(s) and/or brand strategy. A brand is defined by

how it behaves, from the products it builds to how it treats its customers, to the suppliers

with whom it works.

• Growing too fast and not staying on course as the company grows.

• Lack or very little employee training & development.

• Deficient in control systems – reactive rather than pro-active.

• Lack of continuous improvements or complacent.

Top executives need to be accountable to the ownership or Board of Directors –

whichever applies, or at least to an outside arm’s length and neutral party such as an

adviser who can also play “devil’s advocate” when necessary.

Good Organizations Matter

The way to solve an organizational problem is to confront the structural issues with a

moral sense of purpose and ethics.

For its clients to receive stellar service, the firm must have its house in order. Besides

structure and an efficient operation, employees should be trained and empowered to do

their jobs efficiently.

Seth Godin, a renowned marketing strategist, stated succinctly: “If you want to build a

caring organization, you need to fill it with caring people and then get out of their way.

When your organization punishes people for caring, don’t be surprised when people

stop caring. When you free your employees to act like people (as opposed to cogs in a

profit-maximizing efficient machine) then the caring can’t help but happen.”

Companies that disrespect their employees and shut-out clients get willfully isolated and

have a short life span through an erosion of market share and significant loss of

revenue. A company’s goal should place emphasis on serving its people properly and

fairly. Higher morale generates higher profits – though occasionally other priorities

hinder that objective, for example, self-serving behavior by certain executives.

Enterprises spanning a wide array of industries, have earned distinction as “well-” or

“best-” managed” by demonstrating business excellence through a meticulous and

independent process that evaluates their management abilities and practices – by

focusing on innovation, continuous training, brainstorming and caring for their

employees’ well-being – as well as investing in meeting the needs of their clients.

Well-run companies thrive no matter what and learn from their mistakes.

“Hire people, who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for

people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine.”

David Ogilvy

Innovative yet Effective Hiring Practices: Unconventional HR

Builds Benefits

There is a daily news organization that utilizes some of the most unconventional hiring

practices. They appear more qualitative than most journalism establishments. Their

hiring editors evaluate recruits based on “personality and approach” to the news.

Previously, HR used ideals of value and merit.

Roughly translated, this means that today, the recruitment practices are lengthy and

involved including interviews with editors and a 30-minute writing test for every position.

The subject matter of the essay is open to the applicant. Reactions to such hiring

procedures show character or lack of character

 initiative or mediocrity. Someone with

fortitude will undoubtedly shine-out under these conditions and work culture.

Average hiring procedures, however, hold sway in most organizations. Companies

either rely on outdated interview techniques or convoluted exams. Some base their

decision- making on “feeling.” At best, this technique can result in high turnover. What it


show is that a company’s hiring practices is indicative of their culture. HR and the

manager needing the staff should conduct the HR process in tandem, with the same list

of procedures, to ensure their objectives are correlated.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, lack of interest or weak corporate culture, the HR

procedures degenerate into a bureaucratic mess, which lacks inspiration or innovation.

Identifying the right talent requires the creative and innovative culture drawn from top

management. HR should not be seen as an “internal” outsourcer. To draw top talent an

organization most show that they are also “top-drawer.”

Although this is not always the case in practice, both candidate and company should be

“reviewing” each other for a mutual collaboration of talent and objectives pursued within

the organization in need of new personnel at any level.

Taken from a slightly different angle, HR and senior management should view

recruitment as it views customers. Customers are “wooed” so that brand loyalty is

instilled in the purchase decision. The same reflexes should be instilled in the

recruitment area. Loyalty can only be won through a mutual commitment. Salary is only

part of motivation. Incentives and purpose are the other vectors. Considering today’s

mobility in hiring and firing, talent is unafraid to move to another organization if they are

dissatisfied. Talent recruitment and retention therefore requires a new and better-honed

focus, which in my opinion is severely lacking in general.

Think of the example of Google. HR makes it quite clear what the corporate culture

demands and expects. You cannot keep these people without going outside the box.

Examining magazines such as “Entrepreneur” and other trendy business publications in

the States introduces you to exciting new corporate cultures and mentalities that foster

the more effective HR spirit. Whether you are the one joining a company or hiring, both

parties see the act of “recruitment” as an investment.

Simply put: Is the investment worth it?

HR needs to take a lesson from men’s tailoring at its finest and go bespoke. The

assembly line mentality instituted by Henry Ford is obsolete.

Hiring Like It Should to Be

 Updating Current Practices

“Hire for attitude and train for skill” should be the HR mantra. Employment requires a

new definition: The attraction and retention of top talent in line with HR and cost. To get

such HR talent on board your corporate ship, you will have to rethink your own view on


Do you want just employees in the old sense of the term? Or do you value the concept

of “empowerment” or dare I say “ownership”?

In today’s business vortex, everything needs to be channeled through the concepts of

service and added value. Lip service is pointless. Even in the most technical jobs, skills

are only part of the whole picture.

Take the example of Southwest Airlines as a working case study. The firm is rated by

Fortune Magazine

as one of the best places to work for in America, requires every pilot

to have a 737 aircraft type rating before this person is considered for hire. This rating,

given by the Federal Aviation Administration, essentially says a pilot is qualified to be

the captain of a Boeing 737. It signifies that all first officers are qualified to fly as

captains, although it will take about six years to achieve “captain” status.

Over at Zappos, CEO Tony Hsieh says his company hires in favor of personality over

job experience every time. “One of our core values is to be humble. So if there is

someone who is really talented, and we know they will make an immediate impact on

our top or bottom line, but they are really egotistical, then we won’t hire them,” he


In person, the front-line staffers at brick and mortar shops or offices should be wellgroomed,

well-spoken, patient and properly trained to delicately handle clients.

The Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey & Co., two prestigious managementconsulting

firms, require more than just good grades when hiring someone. They aspire

to change clients, industries, business, even society. For this reason, their consultants’

success depends on their talent more than their degree. People with a background in

many subjects such as business, natural sciences, philosophy, finance, and

engineering, history – thrive at those highly reputable firms. They do, however, seek

certain common traits.

The decision maker or hiring manager – the one who is going to work, lead and

empower the prospective employee/subordinate

 should be the one that undertakes

the second and subsequent interviews. This person is the one who will have to deal with

and get along with the appointee.

Hiring a person is similar to “marriage.” Before you commit to each other for the long

run, time should be spent talking and working together in various real-life work

environments and situations. That is a practical way to decide whether you belong

together. In other words, the courting process should be substantive.

As a practical rule, the less predictable you make the interview format; the more likely

you are to truly understand the candidate being interviewed.

Another constructive idea is for the hiring manager to ask candidates to perform any of

the following:

1) Do a brief presentation on a pertinent subject matter

2) Review their company website and provide written recommendations for

improvement prior to the initial interview

3) Participate in some relevant pre-employment training to see how well they learn and

interact with others

4) For a sales-related position, meet with a sales manager who can determine their

knowledge of their market

Ideally, as opposed to waiting for people to apply for vacant positions, successful

companies spend more time continuously searching for high-caliber people, particularly

from within their organization or via referrals/recommendations from their loyal


Examining Past Behavior Indicators

The following tools and processes will help vet candidates efficiently, as well as produce

higher-quality candidates who will fit into your organization, contribute to its success and

remain there for the long haul.

Utilizing pre-employment tests: Professionally developed and properly

validated employment tests can help a company’s hiring process by increasing

the likelihood of recruiting candidates who will perform well on the job. This is

more commonly used when hiring for a sales/business development related


In addition, pre-employment testing can help ensure alignment between the

employee selection process and desired business outcomes such as lower staff

turnover, increased sales, and higher customer satisfaction. Research

* has

shown that cognitive aptitude tests, for example, are much more accurate

predictors of job performance than are other widely used employee selection

techniques. For example, a comprehensive survey of peer-reviewed studies of

the predictive validity of various selection techniques concluded that aptitude

tests are twice as predictive as job interviews, three times as predictive as

experience, and four times as predictive as education level.


Source: Heneman and Judge, Staffing Organizations, 4th ed and Criteria: Corp.

– Pre-employment Testing: Whitepaper

Situational/Behavioral Interview Questions: How do you screen for attitudes

such as, flexibility, unselfishness, initiative, or a tendency to take risks?

The idea is to ask a candidate to describe how they would handle a certain

situation, or what they would do under certain circumstances. Begin by creating

targeted questions to get at the specific attitudes you are seeking. For example, if

you are looking to hire someone who shows a history of “doing whatever it takes”

you could say, “

Tell me about a time when you bent the rules or went above and

beyond the call of duty to meet a customer’s need?

Case Study Scenario Interviews: These are widespread at the top-consulting

firms. During this stage of the interview process, candidates are asked to develop

a recommendation for a fictitious client by analyzing the relevant facts and

demonstrating their ability to formulate a supportable conclusion. Although there

is no single correct answer, there are a limited number of sound, defensible


At the end of exercise, they will receive feedback that illustrates the kind of

thinking the firm interviewers will be looking for. It normally takes a little less than

an hour for each candidate to work his/her way through the assignment.

The Final Analysis

Although traditional hiring has focused primarily on evaluating a candidate’s skills and

technical qualifications, a competency-based approach includes an analysis of a

candidate’s behavioral characteristics as well. Emphasis should be placed on hiring

someone who will more than fulfill the job’s minimum requirements. Potential candidates

ought to have the capability of making a positive impact on the bottom line, as well as

have the potential for being promoted later. Hiring should be an ongoing process, where

talent is brought in early to the organization and developed for future business


The way you treat potential candidates reflects your company’s image. It forms part of

the word-of-mouth advertising, and with social media at almost everyone’s disposal, can

help or harm a company’s reputation. If anything, this person is or can be your B2C


Shortsightedness does not yield long-term benefits. Thus, the hiring model/process you

establish today will determine the kind of culture, service standards, and the kind of

reputation you will have tomorrow. It also keeps turnover very low. From a hiring

manager’s point of view, it’s important to get multiple looks at a candidate and to give a

candidate multiple looks at your company – even if it takes a bit longer.

“Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader. Don’t

fall victim to what I call the ‘ready-aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome’. You must be willing to


T. Boone Pickens

Optimizing the Decision Making Process:

Executive Leadership

Face it! Like it or not you are defined by the decisions you make. Think of successful

organizations and the people responsible for guiding their authority and well-being.

Often, high performance is the result of an executive choosing the right move at the

right time. It’s not purely a lucky streak. Corporate strategy is not “Black Jack” nor 5-

card stud poker.

Decision-making is a complex activity and at times a long process. Your ability to

identify and excel in your decision-making tasks will greatly increase the chances that

the choices you make will have a strong and positive impact on your organization. Why

take any additional risks when you know instinctively that this is the case to sound

growth and prosperity?

How to Get Started

Your first step is to understand the external and internal factors that affect decisionmaking,

from aspects of the organizational environment to your personal decisionmaking

preferences. While you aren’t always able to control these influences,

recognizing and identifying these factors will enable you to take them into consideration

as you strive to achieve the best decision outcome.

Reality Check

Every day you make sense of what goes on around you by interpreting what you see

and hear, taking into account your past experiences, values, needs, attitudes, and

goals. Even your understanding of what another person says is only an estimate, as you

can never completely share the viewpoint of someone else concerning the world.

Given the increasing complexity of organizational life, along with the quantity of

information that must be processed, it is no wonder executives too often experience

stress as they strive to balance agendas and please many of their people.

It can happen that you put a lot of time and effort into a decision study or a formal

analysis, only to be disappointed in the results. When this happens, you need to reevaluate

both the information that went into the analysis including your expectations.

On the one hand, no process is any better than the information that goes into it and

when you get a result that your experience suggests may be flawed or biased, this is a

strong indication to probe.

On the other hand, it’s extremely tempting to tinker with the data until you receive a

result that you’re happier with

 but this is a form of deception that can lead to an

adverse outcome. In this case, it helps to remind yourself to maintain a high standard of

accuracy and objectivity and to seek a reality check from someone whose judgment you

respect and who’s not personally involved in the decision.

The decisions you make are only as good as the process you use to make them. Asking

yourself the following questions will help you to assess whether or not you are on the

right track:

1. Have I done adequate research and gathered all of the appropriate information for

the subject matter at hand?

2. Have I considered all of the stakeholders and their probable responses to various

decision outcomes?

3. Have I been honest in assessing my own decision making style and taken that into


4. Have I recognized and acknowledged my personal agendas and bias?

5. Have I considered the various options available to me in selecting the most

appropriate decision making method?

6. Have I solicited the advice and assistance that was required?

7. Am I prepared to be accountable for the consequences of the decisions I make?

You have the responsibility for making decisions that deeply affect your employees’

performance, morale and your organization’s future. You cannot afford to rely on

personal preferences or hunches alone.

Now that you are familiar with some practical, yet highly effective approaches offered

here, your challenge is to develop a positive future possible through the decisions that

you make today.

Bottom Line

Your decisions are only as good as the information you use to make them. The cliché

“Garbage in, garbage out” applies here. Your ability to recognize bias and evaluate the

reliability and validity of the information you gather can make a tremendous difference in

the effectiveness of your decisions.

“You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats,

procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.”

Thomas Sowell

The Anathema of Bureaucracy: Dealing with its Fate and

Embracing its Inverse

According to Wikipedia, the word “bureaucracy” is defined as “The collective

organizational structure, procedures, protocols and set of regulations in place to

manage activity, usually in large organizations and government.” In other words, it’s a

frustrating, rigid, process-driven, and a snail-paced institution. This shouldn’t exist in

democratic countries and ought to be controlled by developing nations if they are to

effortlessly succeed. Not doing so, bureaucracy will become increasingly self-serving,

complacent and breed corruption, rather than properly serve society as its intention.

In the private sector, if people don’t work productively, their businesses will go bankrupt.

But, in the public sector, seniority trumps performance regardless of employee

efficiency or lack thereof. Competence in an organization is directly linked with its

organizational system. In bureaucracy the hierarchy is typically very complex with many

levels providing a highly differentiated structure of authority.

The faceless bureaucracy also exists in the private sector. Employees there get

frustrated when they can’t perform their work in a wholesome way because of restrictive

yet superfluous rules set by their organization. Add to that corporate politics and it’s not

hard to see why there are high levels of employee exodus/turnover due to their

discontent. There are organizations which thrive on their ability to allow individuals to

remain faceless. It permits them to act badly which is not in the best interest of their


Bureaucracy in Action

 or rather Inaction

When it comes to shipping packages, I despise doing so at the post office because

every time I go, their employees look for a reason not to ship it. Either “Too much tape!”

or “Not enough tape!”. On the other hand, I really enjoy bringing my packages to Fedex

or The UPS store. The folks there have a totally different approach as they’re not

looking for a reason to say no but rather for an opportunity to say yes. “Here’s some

tape, we’ll just add it right here…” The obvious reason is that the person at the post

office has no incentive to make a sale. He/she knows that whether I’m well-served or

not this person will still collect his/her paycheck, benefits and keep their job, in all

probability, until retirement age.

If a company or government institution is in the service domain, then its people should

look for ways to say “yes” at every interaction, provided they are not doing anything

illegal or losing substantial amounts of money for their employer.

Embrace Change, not be Paralyzed by It

Organizations with a large bureaucracy struggle to make fast decisions. Bureaucracy

creates a climate in which the customer is not as important as the management and the

company’s other employees. It also kills the organization’s competitive spirit. As Jack

Welch, former CEO of the industrial powerhouse, GE, has stated, “Bureaucracy is the


 it means waste, slow decision making and unnecessary approvals.” Welch felt

that ridding the company of wasteful bureaucracy was everyone’s job. He urged all his

employees to fight it. “Disdaining bureaucracy” became an important part of GE’s

shared values, At Google, the role of the manager is that of an aggregator of

viewpoints, not the dictator of decisions.

For an organization to avoid the complacency and bureaucratic trap, it should

encourage creative thinking, consider making innovation its foundation, as well as cutout

layers of its bloated management structure for a leaner decision making process.

Innovation is what a business should be putting into effect as often as it’s required for its

long-term existence. The term “innovation” is widely described as: “Leading to

significant organizational improvements in relation to enhanced or new business

products, services, or internal processes.” This involves acting on creative ideas to

make some specific and tangible difference in the domain in which the innovation

occurs. The old adage that goes something along the lines of “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix

it” is a paradigm which doesn’t sit well today with forward-thinking companies that thrive

on practical improvements. There’s nothing wrong with change if done to enhance or

replace the status quo. It’s part of collective progress. For this to work everyone, from

the top brass down to the low labor employee, must embrace continuous change, rather

than resist it. That may be more easily said than done due to typical resistance

emerging from people due to fear of the unknown. It should be up to management to

persuade their subordinates of the mutual benefits of change.

The following are

five recommendations for managing creative employees.

1. Accommodate:

Have an open door policy and offer an element of flexibility with

employee schedules;

2. Stimulate:

Encourage creative thinking not simply with words but also with rewards;

3. Recognize:

Reward with greater autonomy and praise in front of peers;

4. Direct lightly:

Avoid micromanaging and offer feedback;

5. Progressive environment:

Avert unnecessarily restrictive rules and bureaucracy

within the organization.

Adhocracy as the Accepted Wisdom for Organizations to Flourish

Author and expert on management issues, Robert H. Waterman, Jr., defines adhocracy

as “any form of organization that cuts across normal bureaucratic lines to capture

opportunities, solve problems, and get results.” For Henry Mintzberg, a management

guru, an adhocracy is a complex and dynamic organizational form. It is different from

bureaucracy and considers bureaucracy a thing of the past, and adhocracy one of the

future since it’s very good at problem-solving and innovations and thrives in a changing


That said, a company that works under a bureaucracy is very structured in its rules and

hierarchy with mediocrity prevailing. Everyone knows their specific role, they specialize

in that role, and know nothing, or very little, about the roles of their co-workers. On the

other hand, a company that functions as an adhocracy experiences an organic structure

where hierarchy barely exists. As a result, all members of such an organization have the

authority to make decisions and to take actions affecting its future.

Hope you enjoyed this segment of James’s book…See more @


Al Bagocius
The A & I Consulting Group
Creative Packaging Solutions
9838 Old Baymeadows Road # 387
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Voice Mail: 904.553.9539
e-mail @
LinkedIn @
blog @
“We Package Your Message!”
Al Bagocius 

No Responses Yet to “An uncommon look at entrepreneurial essentials”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: